Tenpin bowler Catherine Che Kuk-hung, the first athlete to win a gold medal for Hong Kong at the Asian Games, passed away on Monday at the age of 69. Che, known down the alleys simply as Cat, was the singles champion at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, eight years after she won a bronze medal in the same event at the 1978 Bangkok Asian Games when tenpin bowling made its debut at the regional multi-sport games. Cat was a double medallist in Seoul and she also claimed a silver in the masters. In Bangkok, she also won a bronze in the trios. Before Cat’s breakthrough in Seoul, Hong Kong had never won a gold medal at the Games since its first appearance at the second Asian Games in Manila in 1954, with only silver and bronze in a number of events such as table tennis, shooting and athletics. “We all feel sorry to hear about her death,” said Vivien Lau Chiang-chu, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Tenpin Bowling Congress and a member of that bronze medal trio team alongside Chong Lim-chee. “Cat had been sick for a while since returning from Canada three years ago and we will all miss her contribution to the sport.” Hong Kong’s second Asian Games tenpin bowling gold medallist, Sunny Hui Cheung-kwok, passed away in 2003 after capturing a gold at the 1998 Games, also in Bangkok. Hui died from a brain tumour. Although Cat made history for Hong Kong sport, she did not receive any recognition from the government, which was the biggest disappointment of her career, according to Lau. “It was the first gold medal for Hong Kong but at that time the government did not pay too much attention to sport. Other Asian Games gold medallists, those who came after the change of sovereignty in 1997, were given due recognition by the government, but not Cat. That was her biggest disappointment over these years,” Lau said. There was also no cash rewards for Asian Games medal winners at that time, the first incentive awards for athletes were not handed out until the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games. After the Seoul Games, Hong Kong did not win a gold medal at the two following Asian Games in Beijing in 1990 and in 1994 in Hiroshima, but there were five golds at the 1998 Games in Bangkok, including one from another tenpin bowler Hui. Cat, however, won a gold medal in the trios at the 1992 Asian Championships before snatching another first for Hong Kong tenpin bowling when she captured a bronze medal at the 1995 World Championships. She retired the following year saying that chronic injuries had stopped her from playing. Cat is survived by a daughter. In an interview back in the 2000s, she said she would not allow her daughter to follow her footsteps as a professional player as the life was too difficult for a full-time athlete as there was little financial rewards.